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I moved to Seattle from Hawaii in September of 1985, back when Woodinville was wooded, Kent was more warehouse than strip mall, and a guy could get into the UW with a 2.7 grade point average and light brown skin. Since then I have seen the Hawaiian community continue to grow in this area. We now have Hawaiian stores, restaurants, hula halau, canoe clubs, and gangs. There’s even a community newspaper that covers news, music, personalities, history, and dry hit-or-miss humor. Wow, we’ve come a long way.
Recently I received some emails pointing me to an article about this very topic. After marking those emails as spam I decide to read the article and see what the three-person hype was about.
The piece was from the Associated Press and titled “Hawaii residents flee expensive islands” which apparently came out of the AP’s Department of Reporting Incredibly Obvious and Already Known News. Past Hawaii stories from this department include “Ewa Beach Ski Shop reports dissapointing sales”, “Portuguese Man-O-War not popular pets”, and “More Hawaiians enjoy eating mango than getting pelted with the seeds.”
The article said that according to the US Census Bureau, from July of 2006 to July of 2007 Hawaii’s population grew to 1,283,388 (and yet I can’t get more than 30 non-relatives to come see my shows there). In that time there were 19,265 births. Wow, apparently 2006 was a good year for Victoria’s Secret Hawaii. There were 9,269 deaths and 9,673 people moved away, which could mean that 96 percent of the people that moved away did so because they killed someone. I wrote that joke for two reasons: first, for the humor and second, just to see Fox News report it as fact.
The article interviewed Eugene Tian, who is the research and statistics officer for the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism. I just copied and pasted his job description. I didn’t actually read it. I tried but by the time I got to “Business” I fell asleep on my laptop. Essentially Mr. Tian said that the trend of people moving away could make it harder for employers to find workers, something I could have told you while sleeping on my laptop. So remember kids, if you stay in school and say that less people means less workers, you too can grow up to live it up as a statistics research business whatchamacallit guy. Oh, the stories they must tell at bars.
The article goes on to say that the main reasons people are moving away are housing prices, inflation, the growing cost of living and Southern Methodist University giving you $2 million a year to coach their football team. As for the cost of living, last time I was on Oahu I was able to buy a gallon of milk with 2.9% APR and six months same as cash. All this and the rising prices of gas and energy and all of a sudden Seattle doesn’t sound so bad. Sure you’ll need to buy (and learn how to use) an umbrella but at least you won’t have to live under one.
The census showed that Hawaii trails all other western states in population growth. Even Idaho. What does it say when Idaho does better than you? It says that Kermet needs to change his poi jokes to potato jokes and ride the Boise population boom all the way to the bank.
People want to live in Hawaii. In a recent Harris poll (which I believe consists of a pen, a clipboard, and legendary Steelers fullback Franco Harris hanging out at the mall) people were asked which state they would live in if they could and Hawaii took 2nd right after California. Apparently the idea of rainbows and waterfalls doesn’t compete with the chance of seeing Toby Macguire at the Department of Motor Vehicles. The last time they took this poll Hawaii was third behind Florida. Hawaii overtook Florida this year when the Dolphins went 1-15 and the Warriors went 14-1 (Oh, that Franco Harris and his pointed questions). You’ll never guess what state was in 4th place. Nope. Try again. Nope. North Carolina. I know! That means people are yearning for the humidity and racial turmoil that is North Carolina. I have always been under the impression that those who want to be in North Carolina ARE in North Carolina. I had no idea there were so many people hoping that at some point in their life to fulfill the dream. “Someday, Honey, we’ll put the wheels on this trailer and head to Raleigh. Someday.” I performed in Charlotte once and 20 Hawaiians came to see the show. I believe they were part of the Witness Protection Program.
Another interesting statistic from the Census Bureau is that with many young people leaving to make it on the mainland, Hawaii is aging. The median age of Hawaii in 1990 was 32 years. That number now is about 38, which means even when I’m in Hawaii I’m old. If the aging trend continues, driving on H-1 will become like a video game, trying to avoid cars that go slow, swerve, and never turn despite having their signal on. Soon you’ll find out from Edna’s myspace bulletin that Casey Casem will be spinning tunes at the Wave. Of course, the show will start at 4:30.
For those of you reading this who are recent transplants, welcome. There is a close-knit and warm Hawaiian community here who are willing to help you with your transition. And be sure to read helpful AP articles like “Rain in Seattle very possible” and “Geoducks not popular pets.”
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